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227 thoughts on “The Huffington Post’s War On Science

  1. trrll says:

    Pec, says,

    Exactly which advances are you talking about? The major diseases that cause the most death and suffering still have no cures and the new treatments may have only slight benefits. And most of the new drugs have side effects that DECREASE quality of life.

    This really falls into the “Well, duh” category.

    It would be surprising indeed if the major diseases that cause the most death and suffering were the ones with cures, now wouldn’t it?

    We don’t see much suffering these days from polio, or tetanus, or bacterial infections, but these were all once major sources of human suffering. And even for some diseases that are still incurable, such as diabetes, suffering has been reduced.

    And yes, drugs have side effects. But not everybody experiences side effects; indeed, for most commonly used drugs, the incidence of side effects is on the order of a few percent. People take these drugs because they improve their quality of life. Since almost all side-effects are reversible, there is a simple solution: if the drug doesn’t improve your quality of life, you don’t take the drug.

  2. Karl Withakay says:

    trrll,
    “It would be surprising indeed if the major diseases that cause the most death and suffering were the ones with cures, now wouldn’t it?”

    Very witty, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it when I first read the comment, but for some reason it came to me right away when read the quote in your reply, and laughed out load when you wrote exactly what I was thinking.

    Did you also know that the vast majority of all deaths in the US are due to fatal causes?

  3. Mandos says:

    Nonono. You totally misunderstand her. You see, of course she doesn’t believe she was physically threatened, she is merely alarmed that someone could disturb the aether with negative thoughts about her!

  4. christie says:

    pecon 30 Apr 2009 at 3:44 pm

    “and yet you completely ignored my point.”

    Oh christie, big deal, I didn’t get your point. Sue me.

    No, I won’t, but I will question your intellectual honesty and integrity. You chose to cherry-pick the one sentence in my statement that you could disagree with and start ranting rather than consider what I was saying and reframe your argument based on new information. That just tell me that you’re on here to fight and have no interest in what anyone else has to say.

  5. shadowmouse says:

    christy put it best in regard to pec:

    “I will question your intellectual honesty and integrity.”

    There aren’t enough clue-by-fours to go around, everybody please share.

  6. shadowmouse says:

    oops, christie, mea culpa.

  7. pmoran says:

    Pec “The idea that lifestyle makes a difference, and that environmental toxins can make us sick, comes from alternative medicine, not from mainstream medicine. ”

    That is the perception that AM is trying to sell. The reality is quite different.

    Not only is the above not true (whenever did AM perform long-term prevention studies on large populations or seriously assess the effects of defined “toxins”?) but AM has definitely been steering the public down the wrong paths: vitamin supplements rather than a healthy diet, crank diets rather than evidence-based ones, useless Detox for insignificant toxic exposures rather than emphasizing the critical role of alcohol and tobacco and a sedentary lifestyle in poor health.

    Alt. sources commonly went even further (without being contradicted by the major gurus) so as to claim that vitamins and other measures could actually counter the effects of a poor diet and smoking. We now have solid evidence that supplements do not have the same effect as a good diet.

  8. christie says:

    Watch it shadowmouse :-P
    One more slip like that and I’ll have to… wait… we don’t need any more threats on this thread, never mind.

  9. David Gorski says:

    Quoth pec:

    Gorski thought it was perfectly understandable — if you disagree with someone of course you get so frustrated you feel like killing them, in his world.

    Alright, pec. I’ve tried to be patient. I really have. I’ve even tried to ignore you completely, lest I feed the troll that you are more than I and others already have. But enough’s enough. Editor or no editor, SBM blogger or no SBM blogger, there comes a point when I have to call you out for your nonsense. It’s time for you to stop lying about what I said. I never said anything of the sort. This is what I said:

    Perhaps he shouldn’t have used such colorful language. Personally, my favored term is to say I’d like to knock someone upside the head with a “clue stick,” which is more explicitly metaphorical. In any case, given your maddening inability to get the point of what Steve says, I can kind of sympathize. (No doubt from that you’ll next rant that I “sympathize” with wanting to do violence to you, which is not the case. I can sort of sympathize with people who are irritated enough by your obtuseness to use such language, though.)

    Reasonable readers can glean my intent easily, which was a rather weak understanding of why someone would get so annoyed with you. It’s also a long stretch from saying that I didn’t like Steve’s choice of language but that I can “kind of” sympathize with getting so frustrated with your obtuseness that one might use overly vivid language to saying that doing so was “perfectly understandable” or that if you get frustrated it’s OK to “feel like killing someone.” Only because you love playing the persecuted martyr so much can you so misconstrue the connotation of my comment.

  10. shadowmouse says:

    :P

  11. SD says:

    Sprach Cde. Gorski:

    “It’s also a long stretch from saying that I didn’t like Steve’s choice of language but that I can “kind of” sympathize with getting so frustrated with your obtuseness that one might use overly vivid language to saying that doing so was “perfectly understandable” or that if you get frustrated it’s OK to “feel like killing someone.” Only because you love playing the persecuted martyr so much can you so misconstrue the connotation of my comment.”

    Ah, to watch pots berating kettles.

    “black much?”
    -SD

  12. daedalus2u says:

    It isn’t her obtuseness that I find objectionable, it is the injurious and willfully ignorant and false ideas that she spouts. P Moran has it right. pec is practicing revisionist history to claim that AM is responsible for the current emphasis on exercise and a healthy diet not modern medicine which is (thankfully) becoming increasingly science based (if we can keep the CAM out).

    pec is spouting an ideology that if people followed it they could be (likely would be) harmed. That is what this blog post and comment thread is about. It is about dangerous, harmful, and merely useless practices being promoted as if they were helpful while the promoters get rich off of them by exploiting the vulnerable.

  13. pec wrote:
    “And there is a trend in mainstream medicine to encourage prevention and healthy lifestyles, but my point was that this originated with holistic/alternative health theories and was not emphasized in medical schools until relatively recently. It did not originate with the mainstream medical profession.”

    I am looking at a 1928 edition of The Sexual Education of the Young Woman, by Dr. David H. Keller (Assistant Superintendent of Western State Hospital, Bolivar, Tennessee), from The Sexual Education Series, Roman Publishing Company, New York. In it I find recommendations for “good, healthy food, plenty of sleep, moderate exercise, the avoidance of fatigue and nervous tire and a quiet happy home.”

    Just sayin’.

  14. pec says:

    “That is what this blog post and comment thread is about. It is about dangerous, harmful, and merely useless practices being promoted as if they were helpful while the promoters get rich off of them by exploiting the vulnerable.”

    And all I am really saying is that there are dangerous, harmful and useless practices in all branches of the health industries. You all act like the big drug companies are run by innocent angels who just want to make people healthy, while alternative medicine is nothing but greedy malicious profit-seekers.

    You seldom look at both sides. I think alternative medicine is full of scams and mistakes and failures, but so is mainstream medicine, and everything else that human beings are involved in. Mainstream scientists are not exalted gods and keepers of the truth.

    I happen to agree with some of the alternative theories, so I am considered an adversary here. But I am not a promoter of any kind of CAM treatments, and I never say that all mainstream medicine is useless.

    I try to bring a different perspective when I see a post that is one-sided and biased — and many of them are. Many or most of them are angry, derisive, disrespectful and close-minded.

    You ridicule serious scientists and physicians, not just scammers, just because they are not on your materialist/atheist team. It really irks you that there are so many non-materialist/non-atheists in the world. So you decide we are all idiots deserving verbal, if not physical, violence.

  15. wales says:

    SD makes an interesting point about the contribution of engineers to increased life expectancy.

    David Cutler, a Harvard economics professor, has written a few papers which give a larger perspective on the topic of increased life expectancy.

    Here http://www.princeton.edu/rpds/papers/pdfs/cutler_deaton_lleras-muney_determinants_mortality_nberdec05.pdf Cutler describes 3 historical phases of mortality reduction in the economically “rich” nations: Phase I from mid-18th century to mid-19th century due to improved nutrition and economic growth; Phase II from the closing decades of the 19th century into the 20th century due to public health, first negatively, because of high mortality in cities, then positively in the delivery of clean water and removal of wastes and improved hygiene practices; Phase III dating from 1930s on he calls the “era of big medicine” which includes vaccines and antibiotics. (According to another Cutler paper, http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/8556.html
    US life expectancy at birth has increased from 60 years to 75 years since about 1930.)

    Cutler breaks down 20th century US mortality reduction this way: exclusive of tuberculosis, reduction in direct infectious disease mortality accounts for 3% of total mortality reduction. Antibiotics and reduced cardiovascular disease mortality account for the bulk of the decrease in mortality rates, while he attributes 19% to decreased infant mortality.

  16. weing says:

    pec,

    You really, really are straw-manning. I sense that you are angry.
    Don’t you just want to reach out an hit us on the head with a 2 x 4?

  17. shokufeyesib says:

    Man…this “pec” dude is really crazy! are you a republican? ’cause your milliseconds away from going on TV and saying that the Mexicans are responsible for the Swine Flu and they want to destroy America!!!

    lol…I am just cracking up. Only an ignorant, arrogant, delusional illiterate will say the nonsense you have said thus far.

    I want to name some events and drugs for you since you seem to think that you are holier than thou…you know…people are being nice to you dude…be a little grateful for that. They are giving you the time of day to explain to you why you sound so freaking dumb…and no avail…haha…this is awesome.

    1. Recombinant Insulin: without which we had to wait for someone to die to get it from their pancreas.

    2. Any anesthetics: imagine having to endure surgery while being awake.

    3. Blood clotting drugs: Hemophilia is as old as time. At least these people won’t die of a knee scrape at the age of 5.

    4. Discovery of Anti-scorbutic Factor a.k.a. Vitamin C: Don’t tell bull that its a vitamin and comes from fruit and therefore Alternative Medicine…blah…blah…blah… It was a doctor and essentially a scientist who discovered that the bleeding disease and death of sailors was not due to daemons, but to lack of nutrition. A British surgeon named James Lind. He studied his discoveries for 6 year before he published them and established a strong irrefutable logic that without Vitamin C Scurvy is inevitable.

    5. Penicillin (and other anti-bacs): which saved so many people from a variety of bacterial infections such as: Syphilis (also as old as time), Staph (highest deaths post op due to secondary infection in hospitals up to a decade ago), Strep….

    6. Statins: Of course they elongate the human life. Without Statins, high Cholesterol can cause heart attacks. This is not a speculation, it is an inevitable fact. The kicker is you can have high Cholesterol due to genetic make up and not because of life style choices. So you can’t even begin to blame it on a fast food and junk like that.

    7. Blood Pressure Meds: without which heart attack is inevitable.

    8. Clot dissolving meds: without which a stroke patient is as good as dead if not treated right away (within half hour)

    9. Alcohol: the most basic and fundamental sanitation item in the history of man…PERIOD. Discovered for its medicinal properties by Zakaria Razi, who was incidentally Iranian (I am Iranian). He was a scientist, physician, alchemist, philosopher and a teacher. This is modern medicine. Modern does not refer to a time restriction. It refers to the practices are found based on logic, scientific reasoning, experimental data and analysis…

    10. Polio Vaccine: eradicated Polio from the majority of the world. Only 4 countries might have the wild type virus, out of 192 countries worldwide. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.

    11. Small Pox: eradicated period. Now asinine people who don’t get vaccinated threaten the whole population by being susceptible to a come back of these viruses.

    12. Hepatitis C Virus: noted in the 1970s, but was proven in 1989. By now 150-200 million people are infected due to lack of knowledge about the virus and supplying the blood banks with dirty bloods back in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

    13. Clean births: less dying infants and mothers

    14. Testing for viruses and infectious agents that cause congenital defects. These are: CMV, Herpes, Toxoplasma and Rubbella: more healthier babies

    15. Discovering that Vitamin A is teratogenic: causes severe abnormalities in the fetus if the mother overdoses on any forms of it…such as pills, night creams, face washes….

    I want to end with this:

    Modern medicine has explained a lot of misfortune, devastation, tragedy and loss through out the thousands of years. Considering the fact that a girl will now have the opportunity to know what caused her baby to be deformed, aborted, still-birthed…is reason enough for me to be grateful that my life is so much better in quality and quantity.
    I cannot even imagine what it would feel like being blamed for a genetic/environmental malformation of the child, simply because it was customary to blame the mother since she harbored the fetus.
    Are you kidding me?!

  18. shokufeyesib says:

    This is for “pec” too:

    Dude, you are proving the exact point that this article has made. That people like you only divert from the criticism instead of challenging it. You talk about modern medicine and then equate it with the Big Pharma?
    No one is arguing about the pharmaceutical companies’ sincerity or lack thereof. But you are diminishing someone’s life work and effort (doctors, scientists…) just to divert attention from the fact that you are in a hole so deep, I don’t think a naked mole rat is going to be able to find you.
    You don’t want modern medicine, then don’t go to the doctor.
    You don’t want modern medicine then don’t do any of the following, because if you do you will be nullifying your own argument:

    -don’t eat yogurt
    -don’t eat rising bread
    -don’t take any kind of medicine
    -don’t drink anything with caffeine in it that is not tea or coffee
    -don’t use any kind of antiseptic
    -don’t use alcohol in anyway
    -don’t use ice if you have a bruised muscle
    -don’t take a hot shower if your body aches
    -don’t eat cereal grains, fruits and vegetables to gain from their benefits
    -don’t take any supplements
    -don’t have any surgery even if your life depended on it (haha)

    Maybe you will get it after all of the above…

  19. wales says:

    SD: You might enjoy reading this about the importance of clean water technologies in mortality reduction. I agree with you on this.

    http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/cutler/files/cutler_miller_cities.pdf

  20. khan says:

    For instance, with life-saving drugs, I would argue that most people would prefer some modest discomfort to death. (Obviously there are limits, which is why actual doctors recommend turning off life support and/or going into hospice at some point, because there does come a time when the gain from the therapy does not justify the side effects.)

    I will just add my opinion: I would accept a decent pain killing drug, even with the knowledge that it likely would shorten my life by a year or two.

  21. gaiainc says:

    Wow. I had no idea that my metaphor was going to cause a furor. My apologies to pec that she actually feel threatened. My apologies to SBM for this whole thread getting hijacked. That wasn’t my intent, though now I know and knowing is half the battle. If Drs. Gorski and Novella wish to reprimand me, I accept their reprimand penitently. I definitely could have chosen a better way to express my frustration.

    For the record, though, I am a woman, I am not violent, and I have no intention of doing any harm to pec or anyone at this blog. I also have priorities other than this blog.

    Pec, I am very glad that you are not my patient as you are glad I am not your doctor. I respectfully ask that you read the first three paragraphs of my post. What I argued against was your quite frankly specious and wrong argument that medicine does not promote a healthy lifestyle and that only started after alternative medicine started making noise about it. Yeah… wrong. So very wrong. Nothing about medicine’s ability to prolong and improve quality of life or whatever else you thought I was arguing. It was all about how much healthy lifestyle counseling happens day to day in medicine. Every single fricking day. Whether my patients want to hear it or not. You are still welcome to try and convince my patients to change their ways. Have fun with that Sisphyean task.

    I’m impressed with pec’s statement: “And all I am really saying is that there are dangerous, harmful and useless practices in all branches of the health industries. You all act like the big drug companies are run by innocent angels who just want to make people healthy, while alternative medicine is nothing but greedy malicious profit-seekers.”

    Ummm… where did anyone say that pharmaceutical companies are run by innocent angels who just want to make people healthy? Seriously. Show me where. I know pharmaceutical companies are not angels. I call them the evil drug companies (along with the evil and stupid insurance companies) to my patients. However the drug companies make a product or products that make my life, my family’s life, and my patients’ lives on the whole better, not worse, and thus I have to deal with them. Yes, drugs have potential side-effects. If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be working. In general the benefits far outweigh the risks, so I use them. My patients always have the option to say no. They have free will. My job is not to browbeat them. My job is to inform, recommend, and counsel. They have to take the med. They have to decide to follow or not follow my advice and they have to live with the consequences of their decisions. They don’t always like the latter part, but it’s a part of learning to be a grown-up, to accept responsibility for one’s actions.

    And I’m going to stop because at this point, I don’t think that pec cares or is even willing to listen. She’ll just change the argument to try to argue something else, which is what seems to be happen again and again and again. Which kind of proves Dr. Novella’s whole point in his post. Heh.

  22. weatherwax says:

    Just an anecdote, but some of the oldest jokes around are about outliving the doctor who kept telling me to quit smoking, drink less, get more exercise, and eat more vegtebles.

    It seems to me that doctors have been saying this for a very long time.

  23. Eric Jackson says:

    Weatherwax – for decades in fact.

    Gaianinc – You make excellent points, and thank you for the clarification. I wouldn’t feel too terribly bad. Pec was either using that statement to beat the discussion senseless with a red herring, or genuinely could not tell the difference – which is profoundly disturbing.

    The point you make is absolutely valid, this is a point that has come up over and over in various lectures and discussions I’ve had with faculty who are practicing MDs, particularly in the topic of human pharmacology. While you certainly can provoke some positive biological change by the cavalcade of lifestyle interventions commonly touted, it’s murky as to how much, if it’s enough, if the patient is capable of it. But on top of that it is -profoundly- difficult to get a patient to maintain a major lifestyle change over the kind of time period necessary. The only time they’re really willing to do so is after a direct brush with death, or perhaps an experience of profound self-loathing or disgust.

    Stop smoking. Drink less/stop drinking. Get some exercise, eat a better diet. This is a message that has been shouted for so long from every source, be it physicians, or the mass media. And yet it continually falls on deaf ears. That sort of profound reengineering of a life is something most people, I dare say most of us here couldn’t manage. Not for the timeframe necessary. Not for months, years, decades.

    Characterizing drug companies as conspiratorial, some shadowy overarching conglomerate dictating all medicine with malicious intent is unwarranted. While it is without debate that they have engaged in many deceitful or outrageous practices, when they do so they frequently get punished. The Olanzapine lawsuits and the Gabapentin lawsuits are examples enough of that, where slimy marketing tactics have gotten companies like Eli Lilly and Parke-Davis burned, and burned severely. Yet at the same time they are subject to enormous scrutiny, large amounts of public pressure, and beyond that, what they make is absolutely necessary.

    It’s becoming a trend lately for the large pharmaceutical companies to do a relative minority of their own product development. What we’re seeing more and more of is small groups of biomedical researchers forming their own companies, using techniques like rational drug design, high throughput compound screening and such to develop small molecule drugs, which they drag through early stage testing, and then sell promising candidates to the larger companies, in some cases the entire company.

    By and large, the research and development being done, is being done by academics, doctors, lab techs, graduate students, people not necessarily in the path of the marketing villainy. One of the most bloated, ever expansive all consuming projects at my university, that has snared faculty like some sort of Lovecraftian nightmare god that demands unending new resources is an attempt to rationally design a potent anti-tuberculosis medication. I wouldn’t say that profit is their overwhelming desire at all, especially since it’s a product that would be of most use to a portion of the world’s population that’s poorer than dirt. I doubt that money is their primary motivation, and if it was they certainly wouldn’t be doing it a public university.

    And part of working in medicine is that you’re going to see a lot of cases where it’s too late for lifestyle interventions. The classic teenager who goes into denial about their type 1 diabetes. No amount of diet, lifestyle change, exercise or nutrition is going to restore nerve function to their legs. Schizophrenia, bipolar, conditions that left unmanaged wreak unholy havoc on lives and families.

    So do you give your bipolar patient Lithium, fight for the obligatory few years to get them to stop deciding they don’t need it in fits of poor decision making? Or do you let them walk down the lovely path of substance abuse, uncared for offspring, face the gradual and significant worsening of their condition and an atrocious suicide rate down the road?

    Clozaril, and maybe a chance to have a job, friends and a life for a schizophrenic? Or let them gradually degrade to a point of homelessness, incoherence and despair?

    Benefits versus risks.

    Hmm. It’s late, so I hope that all makes sense and came out sanely.

  24. trrll says:

    And all I am really saying is that there are dangerous, harmful and useless practices in all branches of the health industries. You all act like the big drug companies are run by innocent angels who just want to make people healthy, while alternative medicine is nothing but greedy malicious profit-seekers.
    You seldom look at both sides. I think alternative medicine is full of scams and mistakes and failures, but so is mainstream medicine, and everything else that human beings are involved in. Mainstream scientists are not exalted gods and keepers of the truth.

    Beyondtheshortcoat has referred to it as the grey fallacy–the notion that when two people disagree, the truth must be somewhere in the middle. As Isaac Asimov pointed out in an essay entitled “The Relativity of Wrong”, one person may think the earth is perfectly round, and the other may think that the earth is perfectly flat. Strictly speaking, both are wrong, but they are not equally wrong–because the theory a round earth, while not perfectly correct, is close enough to correct for most navigation.

    So it is certainly true that medicine has been known to, and to some extent occasionally still does, commit some of the sins of pseudoscience–basing therapies on false or untested theories, anecdotes, or testimonials–the key difference is that modern medicine has established clear, objective standards of evidence, while the purveyors of pseudoscience still persist in arguing, “Nobody knows everything and nobody is perfect, so therefore one guy’s idea of how to treat disease is just as good as anybody else’s.”

    The fact is that when it comes to alternative medicine, the balance of truth is pretty much in one direction. No major modern alternative therapy has moved into standard medical practice based upon convincing, objective evidence of safety and efficacy. And the therapeutic approaches that “alternative” therapists and MDs agree upon have been part of standard medical practice for generations.

  25. *happily waves the oxcarbazepine flag, cheering Eric’s post from the sidelines!*

  26. trrll says:

    And part of working in medicine is that you’re going to see a lot of cases where it’s too late for lifestyle interventions. The classic teenager who goes into denial about their type 1 diabetes. No amount of diet, lifestyle change, exercise or nutrition is going to restore nerve function to their legs.

    I lost a friend this way. On top of his denial, his mother was into treating his diabetes with “alternative” therapies. It was not a good way to die.

  27. skeptyk says:

    May I add dialysis to the list of great medical tech? My son has had a kidney transplant (Pec does acknowledge them) and after nearly two decades he needs another one. Hey, Pec, the very drugs he took to prevent rejection may have contributed to damage to the kidney. Powerful drugs. With his next transplant the drugs are different because we have learned more, invented new drugs. Transplant medicine is all sciency. Until a kidney is available for him, he has dialysis. Is it physically stressful? Risky? You bet! Is it perfect? Not at all. Would he be dead in a few weeks without it? Absolutely.

    And before you assume that lifestyle changes would have prevented his renal failure, let me tell you that his first transplant was when he was 5 years old. The kid was born with CRF, and it was fancy shmancy medicine that kept his meagre kidney function adequate for 5 years. And, on behalf of those other folks at the dialysis clinic, most of whom lost kidney function to high blood pressure or diabetes, (which alties LOVE to consider completely preventable diseases), I have to give the alties a big bird flip. You would not effing believe the idiotic suggestions our family has heard from well-meaning, dangerously ignorant alties about kidney health.

    As for prevention, well, pec, that is the soul of much of dental care, as well. Where I work we deal with the most prevalent chronic disease: pediatric dental disease. Tooth decay is preventable, and the causes are clear. And yet we see beloved children from well-to-do families with severe caries and even draining abscesses because the parents are afraid of any fluoride use. Do we teach? Demonstrate? Every visit? Yes, yes and yes.

    We have other kids who, after many episodes of education, demonstration, frustration, still do not adequately care for their teeth during orthodontics. In that case, the braces come off early, but the specialist is not going to risk tooth destruction. These are kids who have demonstrated the ability to do the homecare, but they are busy, lazy, whatever; they made a contract with the orthodontist and assistant and they broke the deal. Is the ortho incomplete? Yes. Can that compromise future form and function? Yes. And there are no refunds in most such cases.

    As for adults, we can usually either cure or arrest early periodontal disease, but, like a nice Harley, you need to maintain it. Some folks won’t. We can teach and give them the tools, but many will not floss or brush well, even though they can. And we discuss tobacco use at each visit with smokers/chewers.

    @Mark Crislip: I use that Grandpa Simpson reference and usually get puzzled silence, so I wanted to say thanks.

  28. skeptyk says:

    Um, correction…”the most prevalent pediatric disease” is what I meant to say. Preview is my friend, and I shunned him again, alas.

  29. pec says:

    “it is -profoundly- difficult to get a patient to maintain a major lifestyle change over the kind of time period necessary. ”

    Aside from quitting smoking, changing to a sensible lifestyle is not difficult. Eat more natural food and less processed junk, do some walking every day. Why is it so impossible to get your patients to do that? (aside from quitting smoking which does take will power). One reason they won’t listen is because they have been brainwashed into thinking modern medicine is constantly finding ways to make our lives longer and healthier, and that there are, or soon will be, pills and surgery to cure every disease.

    Metabolic syndrome is a major cause of the most common serious diseases, and it results from the typical American lifestyle. We don’t need pills to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, we just need a moderately sensible lifestyle.

    If your patients think they will have to live on brown rice and seaweed and spend 4 hours a day sweating at the gym, they might decide living longer is not worth it.

    At the risk of getting slammed with a 2×4 through the internet, I will say that the American public would not be suffering the miserable and deadly effects of metabolic syndrome if they knew how simple it is to prevent, and if they knew that modern medicine has no good treatments for it or its results.

    I remember when — not long ago at all — MDs were recommending 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week to prevent heart disease. That is NOT enough to prevent obesity, which (along with smoking) is a major cause of heart disease (through metabolic syndrome and resulting type 2 diabetes).

    A sensible lifestyle is simple. It takes more than an hour a week, but if your patients cut back their TV watching a little they will have plenty of time.

    I DO NOT believe you are educating your patients correctly if they cannot make these simple changes (again, aside from cigarettes which they may need all kinds of help to quit).

    I DO NOT think you should continue brainwashing the public into thinking we are living longer healthier lives thanks to the new drugs. They will, quite logically, conclude that lifestyle doesn’t matter very much.

    Oh no, here come the 2x4s! But I really do hope you will see the seriousness and the danger I am trying to point out. I have close friends and relatives who have been victims of this brainwashing, who listened to their MDs (pills for everything) instead of me.

  30. weing says:

    Right. I am going to continue to tell my patients that they do not need to exercise, eat right, sleep right, or stop smoking. We have pills for all their ills, thanks to big pharma, so there is no need for work on their part. (And if you believe that, I have a bridge on sale just for you.)

  31. pec says:

    weing,

    I know you aren’t telling them that directly, but it is implied every time we hear that we are living twice as long thanks to modern medicine. People are thinking “Ok my lifestyle is unnatural, but I would have been dead by now if I were living naturally. So maybe a more natural lifestyle wouldn’t be so great for my health.”

    And, as I said, they might think a healthy lifestyle means eating twigs while doing 80 pushups.

  32. David Gorski says:

    If Drs. Gorski and Novella wish to reprimand me, I accept their reprimand penitently. I definitely could have chosen a better way to express my frustration.

    OK, I reach across the ether and slap you upside the head with a wet noodle. Don’t do it again.

    Yes, your verbiage was somewhat over the top, but no one other than pec misunderstood you. pec tried to take the proverbial match and turn it into a raging inferno by pouring the gasoline of persecution complex all over it.

    Also, don’t feel responsible for pec’s hijacking the thread. It’s what she does. If it hadn’t been you, she would have found another excuse.

  33. trrll says:

    Aside from quitting smoking, changing to a sensible lifestyle is not difficult. Eat more natural food and less processed junk, do some walking every day. Why is it so impossible to get your patients to do that? (aside from quitting smoking which does take will power). One reason they won’t listen is because they have been brainwashed into thinking modern medicine is constantly finding ways to make our lives longer and healthier, and that there are, or soon will be, pills and surgery to cure every disease.

    I await your statistics showing that people who don’t believe in the power of modern medicine to cure every disease live healthier life styles. I used to know a guy who rejected medical advice to quit smoking because he had little respect for “Western” medicine. He believed that he was not at risk because he led an otherwise active, healthy lifestyle, ate a healthy diet, and smoked only “natural,” additive-free tobacco. Great guy. Dead now of lung cancer, unfortunately.

  34. pec says:

    trll,

    You knew one guy like that. That’s real convincing and scientific. You know, I very explicitly said that cigarette smoking is a problem. Smokers are addicted and in denial, or else just not able to quit. Aside from smoking, I said, having a reasonable lifestyle is not so hard and I think it would be much more common if the public were not brainwashed to put their faith in drugs.

    You can tell your patients something like this:

    “You really should improve your lifestyle so you won’t need so many pills. Now I want you to spend a thousand dollars a year to join a gym where you can sweat and suffer every day. And you have to stop eating anything that doesn’t taste like sawdust. Of course, if you can’t stick with all that, you can always stay on the life-saving drugs.”

    And they will choose the drugs.

    Some of the messages are direct and others are subtle. But Americans as a whole are still ignoring the recommendations. And I think I am giving some plausible reasons for that.

    Again, we are NOT living twice as long thanks to statins!

  35. “You really should improve your lifestyle so you won’t need so many pills. Now I want you to spend a thousand dollars a year to join a gym where you can sweat and suffer every day. And you have to stop eating anything that doesn’t taste like sawdust. Of course, if you can’t stick with all that, you can always stay on the life-saving drugs.”

    What an impressive straw man!
    Noone talks to patients like that. We always discuss healthy choices with out patients. Infact when I was on family medicine, the majority of my time was spent educating patients about either healthier eating choices, or about how to get exercise into their routine.

    It’s not an either or thing. I can suggest you get exercising, AND prescribe you a statin!

    We certainly aren’t living twice as long because of CAM, so commenting that it’s not because of statins is gibberish.

  36. weing says:

    pec,

    You telling us that is like a kid teaching grandma to suck eggs.

  37. weing says:

    Of course we are not living twice as long because of statins. At least not yet. They’ve only been around since the late 1980s.

  38. pec says:

    “Of course we are not living twice as long because of statins. At least not yet. They’ve only been around since the late 1980s.”

    So it sounds like you have great faith in statins. Even though genetically high cholesterol is very rare and metabolic syndrome is an epidemic.

  39. weing says:

    No. It means, I will wait for the evidence. If you’re talking about familial hypercholesterolemia, where kids died of MIs by 12, there may be evidence for the doubling of their lifespan already. I would have to do some checking. I was talking about the rest of us.

  40. daedalus2u says:

    pec, you have the idea that changing to what you consider a “healthy” diet is easy. You have that idea because you were able to do it, and if you are able to do it, then “anyone” can. That idea can be formulated as a hypothesis that can be tested.

    When that is done, the data on the majority of the population falsifies that hypothesis. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it. Everyone is not doing it. Rather than correct your false idea that it is easy, you cling to that idea and generate ad hoc ideas out of whole cloth to rationalize why it is easy but still many people can’t do it.

    Your idea of why everyone is not doing it is because “the medical establishment” is supremely expert at being deceptive, at telling people to eat a healthy diet and exercise but with a wink and a nod implying that there will be a pill that will fix what ever problems come from a poor diet or not enough exercise. So how come there are obese MDs? How come MDs have family members that are obese?

    In reality, it is your premise that is flawed. Changing to a healthy diet is not easy. Why that is not easy is an interesting aspect of physiology. My hypothesis is that it relates to a flawed metabolic setpoint. That the “setpoint” the body is trying to reach via dietary intake is skewed such that it can never be reached. When that setpoint calls for too high a caloric intake, people eat until they weigh many hundreds of kg because the “setpoint” that tells them to stop eating, that they have “enough” is never reached. People feel like they are “starving”, even when they have hundreds of kg excess depot fat. There are many redundant protective mechanisms to prevent organisms from dying of starvation when there is abundant food around, so people who’s “starvation setpoint” is out of whack can’t keep themselves from eating no matter how much they weigh.

    When the setpoint is too low, people don’t eat and die of anorexia. They come up with all kinds of crazy rationalizations as to why they can’t eat.

    There pretty much has to be a variety of different setpoints for various dietary nutrients. Organisms have to eat what it is they need to survive and need to have physiological mechanisms for regulating the quantity and quality of what they eat. If there were no such mechanisms, then eating anything would satisfy the appetite, including dirt. Eating dirt doesn’t satisfy various types of hunger; there must be physiological mechanisms that couple food choice with physiological needs.

    My hypothesis is that food choice is part of the “setpoint” of oxidative stress. When one is in a state of oxidative stress (which happens to be any state of stress), people choose foods that are low in antioxidants to spare the body the metabolic need to destroy those antioxidants physiologically. That is the reason (my hypothesis) why all of the large, long term, placebo controlled studies of supplemental antioxidants have shown no positive effects. That is consistent with all of the large, long term diet studies that have shown very robust positive effects of eating foods rich in antioxidants. All of the diet studies are with self-selected diets. With no prospective and blinded diet studies, it is not clear if diet is the cause of the poor health or the effect of the poor health.

  41. Karl Withakay says:

    Does anyone besides pec buy into the belief that the reason people don’t eat better and exercise is because they have been brainwashed to put their faith in drugs?

    If so, please do speak up and I will post a response to this position.

    Otherwise, why bother? Dialog with pec can be a fun mental exercise, but you eventually grow tired of it because it ultimately goes nowhere.

  42. shadowmouse says:

    Each time pec posts, I hear the Scarecrow’s song from “The Wizard of Oz”…

    ‘…if I only had a brain…’

    Go figure.

  43. weing says:

    Karl,

    I can’t buy into that. Most of my patients don’t want to take any drugs. Some complain, that they would have to stop smoking, and eating less, in order to afford the drugs.

  44. pec says:

    daedalus2u,

    I am not disagreeing with you, but I want to add that the metabolic set point you mentioned is very much influenced by physical activity. Inactivity causes the metabolism to slow down, but the appetite does not necessarily decrease — this is a major cause of obesity in our society. The other major cause is addiction to refined carbohydrates.

    Once you get patients to understand these two simple concepts, i think they can dramatically improve their health without too much trouble. They have to stop being physically inactive and stop eating refined carbohydrates.

    Those two changes alone will get rid of most metabolic syndrome, the cause of many if not most serious health problems today.

    Obesity and related health problems is not primarily a genetic disorder. There are genetic components, as with anything, but we know that the American, or Western, lifestyle dramatically increases obesity and type 2 diabetes.

  45. trrll says:

    You knew one guy like that. That’s real convincing and scientific.

    You are the one who made the claim that people who believe in the efficacy of modern medicine are less willing/able to adopt more healthy lifestyles. Remember, I asked you for statistical evidence to support your claim. Obviously, one person is not statistical evidence of anything, merely an example to illustrate the point that one must be cautious in making assumptions about how people’s opinions regarding medicine will affect their behavior. Which is why I’d need to see real statistical evidence to make any conclusion one way or the other.

    So do you have any?

    For that matter, considering how critical you are of the medical profession’s record of success in convincing people to change the habits of a lifetime, I presume that you have some statistics proving that alternative practitioners are far more successful in producing this kind of behavior change?

    Again, we are NOT living twice as long thanks to statins!

    So if we aren’t all living to age 140, then statins are worthless? It’s interesting to look at what has happened to cardiovascular disease death rates since the statins were introduced in the ’70′s. Do you suppose that this is because everybody is now exercising more and eating a more healthy diet?

    And by the way, I happen to have a close relative with hypercholesterolemia. So while I probably will not live twice as long due to statins, he very well might. Or would you advise him to stop taking his statins and exercise more?

  46. SD says:

    Govorit’ Cde. Gorski:

    “Yes, your verbiage was somewhat over the top, but no one other than pec misunderstood you. pec tried to take the proverbial match and turn it into a raging inferno by pouring the gasoline of persecution complex all over it.”

    O! sweet, sweet, irony, thy name is Comrade Gorski.

    best. black. pot. EVAR.

    Don’t ever change the act, man. It’s comedy GOLD.

    “the things, you say… you’re unbelievable, oh!”
    -SD

  47. pec says:

    “considering how critical you are of the medical profession’s record of success in convincing people to change the habits of a lifetime”

    I said I didn’t think it should be a physician’s job to educate patients about lifestyle. I said that Novella’s comment, that our lifespan has doubled thanks to medical science, is a misleading and often repeated myth. It tends to give the public an unwarranted faith in medical science and its potential to cure disease. We can see that people are always raising money for diseases, assuming that cures can be found if enough money is spent. But in fact little or no progress is made with some of the worst diseases, regardless of how much money is devoted to studying them.

    Again, I am not saying mainstream medicine is worthless. I have said many times that it can save lives when antibiotics, drugs or surgery are needed.

    But there are also things mainstream medicine is not good for.

    “if we aren’t all living to age 140, then statins are worthless?”

    Statins were not involved in the increase from 35 to 70, or whatever exactly it was. Statins are overused and poorly understood, and we can’t assume they are saving lives and improving health.

    Statins are just a typical example, because they are recommended for everyone with high cholesterol (even children), even though most of the time high cholesterol results from metabolic syndrome, not a genetic disorder. We also don’t even know if statins prevent heart attacks because they lower cholesterol or because they reduce inflammation. And we don’t know how they effect all the organs of the body after many years of use.

  48. pec says:

    “I happen to have a close relative with hypercholesterolemia.”

    Just because there is a small minority of patients who need statins does not mean millions of Americans should be taking them.

  49. Grapmag says:

    Because I am reading “The ghost map” I can’t help but compare it to the one sided debate here. Snow had his hands full fighting the miasmatists. Fortunately he had William Farr and his “Weekly Returns of Birth and Deaths”. He impressed Farr enough, even though he was in miasma camp, to add the crucial variable of ‘where they got their water’ to the report.

    This story is doubly applicable in that it is a fine example of the scientific method and a testament to the value of civil engineering (clean water and sewage disposal).

  50. daedalus2u says:

    pec, you are incorrect. Obesity accelerates metabolism. The basal metabolic rate of the obese is higher than the non-obese (on a lean mass basis). When the obese lose fat mass their metabolic rate decreases.

    http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/134/6/1412

    It is a complete myth that the obese have lower energy expenditure, it is actually higher.

  51. christie says:

    daedalus, interesting study. But one study does not scientific consensus make. Has it been replicated and expanded upon? What about people who are just moderately overweight? For the sake of curiosity, is it a fairly linear correlation? If no one here has an answer, I’ll search myself, but I know so little about the field, I’d hardly know where to begin.

  52. David Gorski says:

    Don’t ever change the act, man. It’s comedy GOLD.

    I love your over-the-top libertarian schtick, too, man. It’s comedy PLATINUM. :-)

  53. vargkill says:

    Heres a few interesting things to add to the “creation vs evolution” portion of this blog.

    First of all, there is no way to win this argument.

    Also i just want to add something interesting…

    If there was no survival of the conscience after death, and we
    just faded into eternal dreamless sleep, does that not bother
    any of you? Does the thought of surviving after death not bring
    some sort of comfort?

    I for one would think that if there was nothing spiritual to life
    that there would to tough moral choice for every being on this
    septic tank of a planet. Think for a minute, would anything you
    do really truly matter at all? If you just fade into nothingness
    what would be the point of doing right or wrong? Once your gone there is nothing right? Then why bother living by the rules
    of life or even doing decent things? Once you’re dead nothing
    matters anymore. In a few years you’re just forgotten anyways
    so why not do what the hell you want?

    I know some of you might have a typical response for this
    type of post.

    Such as, Its the right thing to do, its for the better of man,
    its about doing for those who you care for when your gone
    blah blah blah, heard it all before…

    Just think about it for a few minutes, to just be gone forever
    is really a fucked up notion… To prove the existence of “God”
    or anything spiritual you have to be willing to look outside of
    what you have learned and realize that there might be some
    things in this Universe that cannot be measured by Science.

    I cannot prove that “God” is real and i am willing to admit that.
    But i will also admit that there is a lot we do not know yet
    and anyone arrogant enough to suggest evolution is fact
    then perhaps its time to do a little paranormal research on
    a large scale to find out once and for all.

    People are doing it on a daily basis.

    If i can remember the name of this book i read, Duke Uni did
    a paranormal reseach study and came up with tons of chilling
    results and different things that kinda made me think when i read it. If i can remember the name of the book id be happy to point
    anyone interested to it.

    Thanks for your time!

  54. daedalus2u says:

    Cristie, yes the result is very robustly observed. It isn’t linear, but then nothing in physiology is.

    The mechanisms behind it are not fully understood. I suspect a major component is increased slip in mitochondria due to fewer mitochondria producing the same ATP but at a higher mitochondrial potential where they are less efficient. NO is what triggers mitochondria biogenesis, so chronic low NO will eventually cause fewer mitochondria and will cause them to generate ATP less efficiently, that is fewer molecules of ATP per molecule of O2 consumed.

    I think there is also an increase due to more glycolysis for ATP production which increases flow through the Cori cycle which is also less efficient at generating ATP.

    I think the increased reliance on glycolysis for ATP is the major mechanism behind how people become morbidly obese. It takes 19 times more glucose to make ATP via glycolysis than via oxidative phosphorylation. If your body shifts 5% of its ATP production from oxidation to glycolysis, it takes twice as much glucose to accomplish it. The vasculature can’t deliver 2x as much glucose without increasing glucose concentration (hyperglycemia) and increasing extravascular flow by increasing pressure drop across capillary beds (hypertension). The glucose level that is important to cells is the glucose level they are exposed to in the extravascular fluid they are bathed in, the value in bulk blood is relatively unimportant (except as in how it affects the levels in the extravascular space). Glucose transport into cells is active, I think so that it can saturate (become glucose resistant) so that the cells closest to the capillary don’t consume it all. Similarly cells become insulin resistant so the first cells don’t consume all the insulin.

    If the cells too far from a capillary don’t get enough glucose, they will send out starvation signals, screaming for more glucose. If they can’t get it because the capillary spacing is too far apart (also regulated in part by NO) then they will never stop screaming for it no matter how much carbohydrate is consumed.

    If there are not enough mitochondria in the liver to recycle all the lactate being produced by glycolysis, the lactate has to go some where. There are no mechanisms for excreting lactate, but every cell can use it to make lipid. When lactate is made from glucose, reducing equivalents are consumed. Utilizing that lactate requires producing reducing equivalents that must then be consumed by the cell doing the utilization. If glycolysis is being done because there is insufficient mitochondria capacity (mitochondria have unlimited capacity to consume reducing equivalents and generate ATP via oxidation), then the lactate has to be exported to a tissue compartment that does have enough mitochondria. Effectively that is moving the consumption of the reducing equivalents from where the lactate is generated to where it is utilized. But if there is no need for the ATP that could be generated by oxidizing those reducing equivalents, what to do with them? My hypothesis is that the body then uses them to generate lipid in the tissue compartments that have excess mitochondrial capacity. First in adipose tissue to generate depot fat, next in the visceral space, next in the liver, next in skeletal muscle, eventually in the kidney (if you live that long).

    However this depot and ectopic fat is completely useless for supplying glucose. Glucose cannot be made from lipid, and unless you are in ketosis, the nervous system has an absolute need for glucose. If the cells too far from a capillary in the brain are not getting enough glucose, they will compel consumption of carbohydrate.

  55. trrll says:

    Just because there is a small minority of patients who need statins does not mean millions of Americans should be taking them.

    And who, specifically, do you imagine to be making that argument?

  56. worknfool says:

    Who reads Huffington?

    Oh, never mind, just visited and caught a bit of that site’s intellectually stimulating flotsam; “Miss California’s breast implants funded by pageant: Confirmed!”

    As for the earlier references to Evilution, I believe it was the great sage of our time, George W. who once quipped, “well, the jury’s still out on that one…”
    To which I can only reiterate the sentiments of Lewis the Black in saying; “the jury’s still out?! what jury?! which fucking jury are you talking about ?!, are you fucking crazy…?!” or something to that effect.

    ‘Scuze me, Mr. Scopes gave me this fossil and I was wonderin’…

    Can you believe that we actually elect these idiots?

    Last and least we have God, gods, Allah, mana, whatever…
    Just pass me the opium pipe please. I doubt that the narcotic has been responsible for as many atrocities as the insanity and flim flam of organized religion.

    The gist of it is that ya gotta believe. It’s all about faith in something that you can’t see or hear or touch…like life insurance. It makes people who knew you feel better when you’re worm food.

    Now if any one of ‘dem groups could just master the one idea of treatin’ each other the way they want to be treated…well then we’d really have something wouldn’t we. And if there is a hereafter, I’m pretty sure that just living by that one precept’ll get ya in the door no matter whose runnin’ the acid test that day.

    Sorry, that damn scientific method makes me cranky.

  57. Mandos says:

    Mmm, re the setpoint business, etc, obesity and/or the deleterious effects associated therewith seem to cluster in the Western poor, do they not? And also in the West, anorexia clusters in younger women, not to mention being steeped in a culture of said. So while the mechanism may be explorable as a physiological phenomenon, it seems too difficult to ignore the prospect that the causes are in some measure cultural and economic and prone to alleviation by such means.

    One of my biggest problems with CAMism is the huge reliance on individual prevention. I believe that many of these chronic problems are social and collective diseases, or the difficulties associated with them can be alleviated by collective changes (eg neurodiversity movement). A lot of CAM seems to believe we can achieve wellness at low cost and without much tax expenditure or regulation. Hmm…

  58. daedalus2u says:

    Mandos, I am not sure what your point is. Ultimately everything that happens in and to and with the body is a consequence of physiology.

    The urban poor in every developed city are obese. The rural poor in every undeveloped region are not.

    In regions that are developing, that is regions where the rural areas are undeveloped and the urban areas are developed show a large obesity gradient between the rural areas and the urban areas. The food is coming from the rural areas and many of the urban obese are migrants from the rural areas who (presumably) maintained their customary dietary habits.

    My interpretation is that the setpoint changes when moving from a rural area to a developed area. My explanation is that the NO/NOx status as reflected by commensal surface bacteria of a certain type is an important component of what that setpoint is. Stress is another. High stress moves the setpoint in the same way that low NO does, I think for the same reasons. Stress is a low NO state. Obesity is a low NO state too. If it gets too low, there is no way that physiology can compensate and you are SOL unless you can find another way to raise your NO/NOx status.

  59. pec says:

    daedalus2u,

    You steadfastly deny the obviously important role of physical activity/inactivity. That is the variable that makes the difference — physical inactivity is a major cause of obesity. And it seems to me that almost everyone knows this, except the urban poor and you.

  60. daedalus2u says:

    Is there data that the urban poor are less active than the rural poor? Does everyone who does not exercise become obese?

    How do infants become obese? Infants are unable to walk. The level of physical activity of pre-mobile infants has not changed in 100,000 years.

    I know that many people think that exercise is important, and enough exercise will cause weight loss and prevent obesity. But there are non-obese people who exercise less than people who are obese, so exercise is neither necessary or sufficient to prevent obesity.

    I am not denying the role of physical activity, I am just pointing out that it is neither necessary nor sufficient to prevent obesity.

  61. Mandos says:

    Mandos, I am not sure what your point is. Ultimately everything that happens in and to and with the body is a consequence of physiology.

    My point is that solutions to things/prevention of chronic diseases that seem to cluster consistently in socioeconomic categories probably don’t entirely lie in what doctors tell their patients, CAM or otherwise

  62. SD says:

    worknfool (an apropos nym if ever I’ve seen one):

    Ah. ho. kay.

    First, I’ll suggest that it’s a little easier to believe in your correct understanding of and valid opinion about the scientific method if you don’t spell the word “evilution”. Unless you’re trying to be clever. In which case, um, you shouldn’t. Because you’re not. Just sayin’.

    That aside, listening to discussion about evolution is funny. (I will use the common summary of the concept of “speciation as the result of a continuously-operating long-term process of random generation of heritable mutations resulting in differences in survival advantage which are selected for or against proportional to advantage conferred” as “evolution” henceforth.) It’s funny chiefly because you invariably hear that tired old trope get whipped out, “the science is settled”. I will say it again, in big bold capital letters, for all the fanbois: RULE ZERO OF SCIENCE IS THAT ‘THE SCIENCE’ IS *NEVER* “SETTLED”, ON *ANYTHING*, *EVER*. DATA CHANGES. THEORIES CHANGE. CONCLUSIONS CHANGE. Someday, somebody may actually take this to heart, and stop pompously spouting off thought-terminating soundbites, possibly even somebody here.

    I am not holding my breath.

    Although it certainly passes the plausibility test better than its alternatives, and the evidence is reasonable, evolution as a model *does have* some holes that are not adequately explained, and it is a disservice both to science and to the theory itself to pretend they don’t exist. (Dawkins is vaguely amusing but not convincing, please do not trot him out.) I especially find the all-or-nothing arguments against incremental evolution of complex systems to current states particularly interesting, and especially given the remoteness of the probabilities involved in this process in the first place and the estimated lifetime of the Sun and of life on Earth in general. It feels as though there are too many zeroes to the right of the decimal point in the first number to be made up reasonably with the zeroes left of the decimal point in the second. That’s just me, though. (Are there any arguments pro/contra evolution from a rigorously statistical point of view, or failing that, estimates of the actual time required to produce the complexity of speciation observed today based on purely random mutation and selection?)

    Still, ignoring the question of the origins of a given complex system, anybody who has even a rudimentary understanding of statistical mechanics can visualize evolution as a reasonable and plausible mechanism for observed changes in that system over time. Is that the only possible mechanism of such change, though? Answer: Who knows? The clever and wily scientist, realizing the epistemological minefield here – that these changes require “randomness” in order to operate (is it *really* random? whose thumb is on this scale? how do you tell?) and realizing the dearth of sufficiently encompassing data, particularly measurements of visibly evolving systems and active *experiments* to explore the mechanisms of evolution with (can we run two “evolution” experiments on identical planetary or ecosystem-level complex systems and see if they produce the same result? can we run one with a change and one as a control group to see what happens? prokaryotes don’t count, guys, or at least not anywhere near as much as eukaryotes do) – hesitates before making absolute pronouncements, remembering the potential for epic embarrassment in allowing one’s mouth to run away with one’s reputation.

    And finally, evolution and intelligent design are not mutually scientifically exclusive, because the presence of intelligent design is not a question decidable using the scientific method without some physical means of detecting the existence of a God, which we don’t have. (If you don’t believe that this question is not decidable, then explain how the existence of evolutionary change in a system constitutes proof of the nonexistence or noninvolvement of God with respect to that system. Yeah, that kind of doesn’t work; God can do whatever the hell he wants to do, pretty much by definition. That, in a nutshell, is why he’s God.)

    So, from a scientific perspective, there is no real controversy, or at least the controversy is muted and predictable. Neither is there controversy from a religious perspective, really. (“Okay, schmott guy,” says the old rabbi, “if you’re so schmott and God doesn’t exist, den who shtarted the whole ting up in the first place, eh?”, any answer to which invokes either infinite regress or an answer of “it happened jus ‘coz”, the lamest and most unscientific answer to the question of cosmology ever conceived. The rabbi leans back and chuckles.) The main problem is that the fight of evolution vs. intelligent design is neither a scientific fight nor a religious fight, but a political fight.

    So what is this political fight? What, precisely, *is* the controversy? Or, as Bugs Bunny asked, “What’s all the hub-bub… bub?”

    The controversy is one ineluctable consequence of “democratic” solutions to public problems, where we all take a vote and then the losers shut up and do what they’re told, whether or not they even wanted to participate in the first place: that children in public schools, which derive their funding from universal taxation, are to be taught some principle to the exclusion of others, regardless of both the wishes of at least some of the purchasers of this ostensible service (the taxpayers) and those ultimately responsible for making decisions about the children’s welfare (the parents), and regardless of the lack of unanimous or even supermajority consensus on this issue among all the so-called “stakeholders” of this system. The controversy’s root is that ID adherents line up on what is commonly styled the “right” of the political spectrum, and that evolutionists derive the majority of their support from the “left”, and the evolution issue is a convenient bludgeon for each to use to smack their political enemies around (albeit for differing reasons).

    (I will hereafter, solely for the purposes of being a complete dickhead, use the term “Intelligence Denialist” to refer to a proponent of evolution, and “Intelligent Designer” to refer to a proponent of, well, Intelligent Design. Also, please note that I am using the terms “left” and “right” in their customary usage, although I find the terms extremely misleading in practice.)

    “See,” crows the average Intelligence Denialist, “lookit the stupid redneck-retard Krishuns, teaching their kids about how their imaginary friend farted the earth out seven thousand years ago! Hooooee, what morans! Everybody knows that evolution made the universe!” The more articulate, clever, and evil Intelligence Denialist – realizing that the concept of “evolution over billions of years” is a wedge that can be driven into the minds of other people’s children to encourage them to turn away from their parents’ Judeo-Christian mythology by encouraging a fallacious literal comparison with orthodox Judeo-Christian belief, which can be interpreted as saying that the Earth was created six thousand-odd years ago directly by the hand of God – finds in this attack a way to sow discord between the generations of his political enemies, and of disrupting the transmission of their religious doctrine, and of interfering in the education of other’s children to his own great benefit by shoving his worldview up their ungreased asses. This person is, statistically, a Democrat, and essentially always an unabashed international-socialist.

    On the other side of this coin, the average Intelligent Designer, interpreting this (correctly) as an attack on his religion and overall belief-system, turns that attack around, and crows: “See! Lookit the gawdamned Godless commie bastards, trynta throw Jeezus outta our skools! Not in *my* America, buddy! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” The more articulate, clever, and evil Intelligent Designers – realizing that a “bunker-under-siege mentality” encourages fervor and squelches dissent and inquiry about leadership perks, goals, and effectiveness – finds in responding to this attack a way to effectively frustrate his political enemies’ ambitions (depending on environment), and of regaining ground in the power structure(s) controlling education (who controls this ground controls the framing of discussions twenty years hence; as the Jesuits say, “Give me a boy up to the age of six”; many of them even actually complete the saying as originally intended, “… and I will give you the man”), and possibly even gaining sufficient ground to begin shoving *his* worldview up his enemies’ and their childrens’ ungreased asses. This person is, to a somewhat lesser level of confidence than his opposite, a Republican (though increasingly Libertarian or non-aligned as well), and when Republican is frequently, but not always, at least a crypto-national-socialist.

    This is, in short, a King-of-the-Hill power fight; no more, no less. Who becomes King of the Hill gets to have his way. Who fails in this task gets to watch helplessly, his nose rubbed firmly in the fact that (The gawdamn pinkoes are teaching corruption and filth){or}(The evil regressive science-hating rednecks are “teaching the controversy”) to Our Children! Hooray for the demos, Source Of All Good And Wisdom, and hip-hip-hurrah for demos-ocracy. I can sleep safe this evening knowing that I can choose from a menu consisting of both Frick *and* Frack, that I may align myself with either Tweedledum *or* Tweedledee. Indeed, I am blessed – twice, even! – with Choice. Yay, Choice!

    Is it any wonder that from such a vintage of strife is pressed such a bitter wine?

    Now, the libertarian perspective – “A pox on both their houses; let each family teach their children as they please, in such schools as the parents wish voluntarily to send their children to, and let it be paid for voluntarily and not through taxes, and we shall see then which schools and which ideas survive in the long run; stop stealing people’s money for your pet projects and let people choose to do with their own property what they please” – is considered “crazy” and “excessive” and “radical” and “impractical”. Instead, in a practice that is considered “reasonable” and “effective” and “pragmatic” and “realistic”, mimicking the educational forms designed and perfected in such human paradises as Prussia, “that” Germany and the Soviet Union, kids are rounded up inefficiently from huge geographical areas and sent to homogenized, centralized schools; paid for, in the main, by people who variously have either no kids in those schools, or who actively loathe the curriculum taught, or who live elsewhere in the county, state, or even nation; which schools are staffed largely by teachers who generally arrived at the life task of pedagogy after failure in training for other fields of endeavor, and many of which will either confess to or can easily be shown by their history to be motivated by lackadaisical indifference, pure avarice, or actual malice when their intent is examined; and which schools, finally, when their repeated failure is made manifest at all levels, e.g. when high school graduates are unable to sum a pair of two-digit numbers without reaching for a calculator (and who still screw even that simple task up), e.g. when college students show the reading and composition skills of eight-year-olds of the 19th century, yes, these very schools and teachers are then “bailed out” with large and fresh increases in their income stream, all at public expense. This system of endlessly rewarding failure with largesse is considered an efficient, just, and humane way of accomplishing the desired goal of instructing children to be sane and reasonable members of society – as opposed to, say, just letting them play in the street – a theory I remain unconvinced of owing to spectacular lack of credible available supporting evidence.

    (SD dons sandwich sign, “END EDUCATION BAILOUT ECONOMICS!”)

    So, in closing: if you’re tired of the fight over evolution, if you are tired of hearing palpable bullshit shoveled three feet deep in the public discourse, then the cure for that is to remove the topic from public discourse, or at least that portion of it which involves the disposition of stolen money (“taxes”). How you accomplish this: Stop buying in to the false promise of triumph in using the power of the State to shove your views up the asses of those who don’t agree with them, regardless of how floridly idiotic the views they *do* hold are, or how goofy the reason they choose not to adopt your views (“Jeezus told me so!”). If you’re right, you’ll win in the long run anyway – the round-Earth theory won in the end, didn’t it? – and if you’re wrong, then clearly it wasn’t a good idea to do things you way, was it now? Support the “demilitarization” of these topics so that, once the heat and noise dies down, Reality and Truth can quietly continue their march across the world.

    “not holding his breath”
    -SD

  63. whamo says:

    I’m not in the medical field – I’ve never gotten the message from the medical establishment that I can be ‘as bad as I wanna be” because a pill will fix it. And I LOATHE drug company ads. Right – like my doctor is going to give me a ‘script cause I saw it on the TV. I rarely get a prescription for anything and am as annoy as the next moron when I pay $80 and come away with a recommendation to get rest, take NSAID as needed, etc. Just give me a pill, dammit! That’s what I paid you for!

    I have always been insulted on behalf of those below the poverty line that people like pec think the solution is that they should eat healthy, organic, non-processed food. I can see pec getting angry at the food industry (Big Farma?) for cranking out tons of cheap, over-processed, nutrient-poor food. Doctors can’t be expected to fix that. Why are people ignorant of the obvious? Perhaps this is more a matter of education – why are schools failing to ingrain this knowledge at an early age (I’m a teacher, and this matter is more complicated, too)?

    The initial article was about throwing out modern medicine with the bath water – not about doubling life spans.

  64. pec says:

    “exercise is neither necessary or sufficient to prevent obesity.”

    That is true, and I agree that carbohydrate addiction is also an important factor, and of course genetics is involved. It’s hard to know whether refined carbohydrates or inactivity have that greatest role in obesity and metabolic syndrome, but it’s pretty obvious that both are important factors, and both are central to the American/Western lifestyle.

    I don’t know how poverty is related to this, but there might be a correlation between education level and obesity (as well as cigarette smoking). I don’t understand why — every child probably learns the simple basics of a healthy lifestyle so you don’t need a college degree to understand it.

    Maybe a person with more education, and more money, cares more about their future and therefore has more desire to get rid of, or not start, bad habits?

  65. Mandos says:

    I don’t know how poverty is related to this, but there might be a correlation between education level and obesity (as well as cigarette smoking). I don’t understand why — every child probably learns the simple basics of a healthy lifestyle so you don’t need a college degree to understand it.

    Maybe a person with more education, and more money, cares more about their future and therefore has more desire to get rid of, or not start, bad habits?

    There’s a correlation between poverty, education, obesity, disease of various kinds mental and physical, etc, etc, etc.

    There are lots of ways in which poverty is connected to poor diet and poor health. But a rich fat man is very much likelier to live his four score and ten than a poor fat man. Even if the rich fat man inherited his wealth and flunked out of college and coasted for most of his life.

    Here’s one of many pathways: regardless of what education you give people who are poor, the options (in terms of time and money) for the pleasurable things in life are few. Frequent trips to MacDonalds (which in some places is no more expensive than the grocery store, unless you are willing to agree to live on rice and beans for the rest of your life) are a source of change, pleasing to kids who otherwise have little else to do in unsafe neighbourhoods. Eating MacDonald’s all the time has some deleterious effects I’m told.

    That’s just one example. But seeking change in terms of individual habit modification is unlikely to be successful when the universe is conspiring against that.

  66. whamo says:

    I also think as American we expect something from a service. I have not had insurance for most of my adult life (I have poor insurance now). If I break down and go to the doctor, I have this desire to come away with more than a pat on the back – I want a magic pill. I don’t think I’m unusual, and I have a feeling this is why so many people like CAM – they will always send you away with something, be it a spinal adjustment, a tincture, or a crystal or what have woo, I mean you.

    I think it’s not the fault of the medical community that we expect something for something. I’m not saying it’s right, but I think it’s a factor.

  67. weing says:

    The difference between scientists in the field of evolution and IDers is the difference between football players and the Monday morning quarterbacks.

  68. pec says:

    “regardless of what education you give people who are poor, the options (in terms of time and money) for the pleasurable things in life are few.”

    That theory makes sense, maybe. If a person’s life is generally dreary then they might be more vulnerable to addictions, including cigarettes and junk food. Of course lots of successful people are probably addicted to prescription drugs, or shopping, etc., so I don’t know, maybe it’s just that different subcultures prefer different addictions.

  69. weing says:

    I wonder what kind of people get addicted to blogs.

  70. SD says:

    Lamed Weing thus:

    “The difference between scientists in the field of evolution and IDers is the difference between football players and the Monday morning quarterbacks.”

    Uh, weing, remember this part (assuming you actually read the post, and didn’t just key off a couple of words):

    “Someday, somebody may actually take this to heart, and stop pompously spouting off thought-terminating soundbites, possibly even somebody here.”

    Yeah. I was talking about you, basically.

    Way to fanboi with the Twitter answer, weing. Do you actually *know* anything, or are you just, like, a parrot?

    “awk!”
    -SD

  71. weing says:

    “I for one would think that if there was nothing spiritual to life
    that there would to tough moral choice for every being on this
    septic tank of a planet. Think for a minute, would anything you
    do really truly matter at all? If you just fade into nothingness
    what would be the point of doing right or wrong? Once your gone there is nothing right? Then why bother living by the rules
    of life or even doing decent things? Once you’re dead nothing
    matters anymore. In a few years you’re just forgotten anyways
    so why not do what the hell you want?”

    Don’t really know what this has to do with Huffpo.

    Do you think rhesus monkeys not pulling a chain that gives them food if the act of pulling gives a painful shock to a monkey in another cage is driven by the belief in an afterlife?

    Masserman JH. Wechkin S, and Terris W. 1964. “Altruistic” behavior in rhesus monkeys. American Journal of Psychiatry 121: 584-585.

  72. weing says:

    SD,

    That’s for you to figure out. Oh, I forgot. I’m so sorry. You’ve already made up your mind. No need to think.

  73. SD says:

    Sprach wang:

    “SD,

    That’s for you to figure out. Oh, I forgot. I’m so sorry. You’ve already made up your mind. No need to think.”

    Yup, I have made up my mind. That’s because all I’ve seen is plenty of evidence that you *are* a reflex-posting keyword-scanning fanboi parrot, and none at all that you are not. I therefore believe that that is all that you are. See how that “science” stuff works? >;->

    “fanboi parrot, awk!”
    -SD

  74. weing says:

    That really was a thought-stimulating as opposed to thought-stopping soundbite…. Not!

  75. Mandos says:

    That theory makes sense, maybe. If a person’s life is generally dreary then they might be more vulnerable to addictions, including cigarettes and junk food. Of course lots of successful people are probably addicted to prescription drugs, or shopping, etc., so I don’t know, maybe it’s just that different subcultures prefer different addictions.

    I’d be really surprised if “successful” (read, mostly lucky) people’s addictions were equally as deadly as “unsuccessful” people’s addictions.

    My scenario was intended as an illustration of one pathway by which poverty contributes to poor outcomes. We are not beings of pure Will, consequently amelioration of many of our problems are likely to involve collective efforts.

  76. Karl Withakay says:

    vargkill said:

    “Heres a few interesting things to add to the “creation vs evolution” portion of this blog…
    …If there was no survival of the conscience after death, and we
    just faded into eternal dreamless sleep, does that not bother
    any of you? Does the thought of surviving after death not bring
    some sort of comfort?

    I for one would think that if there was nothing spiritual to life
    that there would to tough moral choice for every being on this
    septic tank of a planet. Think for a minute, would anything you
    do really truly matter at all? If you just fade into nothingness
    what would be the point of doing right or wrong? Once your gone there is nothing right? Then why bother living by the rules
    of life or even doing decent things? Once you’re dead nothing
    matters anymore. In a few years you’re just forgotten anyways
    so why not do what the hell you want?”

    First, this is not an argument of evolution vs intelligent design, it’s an argument about belief in the existence of God and/or an afterlife, which is not the same thing; some people just can’t figure that out. So you’re basically saying the reason to belief in God is because it is comforting and the alternative is an unpleasant concept?

    It seems to me that what we do in life has LESS meaning if you believe in God and an afterlife, because nothing matters beyond the minimum requirements (whatever they are) to qualify for the good part of the afterlife, whereas, if you believe this life is all that you have, everything that you do during it matters that much more. Why bother living by the rules? Well, if this life is all that you’ve got, you don’t want to screw it up.

    I’m always amazed by all the people who believe in God that basically maintain that without God, there’s no reason to be a decent person; they apparently don’t want to be good; they’re only good because God tells them to be good.

  77. Karl Withakay says:

    SD said:

    “And finally, evolution and intelligent design are not mutually scientifically exclusive, because the presence of intelligent design is not a question decidable using the scientific method without some physical means of detecting the existence of a God, which we don’t have. (If you don’t believe that this question is not decidable, then explain how the existence of evolutionary change in a system constitutes proof of the nonexistence or noninvolvement of God with respect to that system. Yeah, that kind of doesn’t work; God can do whatever the hell he wants to do, pretty much by definition. That, in a nutshell, is why he’s God.)”

    Evolution vs intelligent design is only tangentially related to the discussion of the existence or non-existence of a god. Although a god is pretty much required for intelligent design, a god is not excluded by the concept of evolution.

    However, there’s no scientific evidence that God has ever been involved in anything. If there is a god, it doesn’t seem to have it’s finger in the pot, and it seems to have left the universe alone after it started the marble rolling at the big bang.

    The thing is, your God doesn’t seem to do whatever he wants; everything he “does” seems to fit in with the natural laws of the universe he supposedly created, such that his “actions” are indistinguishable from natural occurrence. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence he has used any cheat codes in the video game he wrote that is the universe.

  78. Karl Withakay says:

    SD said:

    “So, from a scientific perspective, there is no real controversy, or at least the controversy is muted and predictable. Neither is there controversy from a religious perspective, really. (”Okay, schmott guy,” says the old rabbi, “if you’re so schmott and God doesn’t exist, den who shtarted the whole ting up in the first place, eh?”, any answer to which invokes either infinite regress or an answer of “it happened jus ‘coz”, the lamest and most unscientific answer to the question of cosmology ever conceived. The rabbi leans back and chuckles.) The main problem is that the fight of evolution vs. intelligent design is neither a scientific fight nor a religious fight, but a political fight.”

    Once again, evolution has nothing directly to do with the belief in God, and has nothing to do with the origin of the universe or even the origins of life itself.

    Science doesn’t say, “it happened jus ‘coz”, it says we don’t currently have an answer to that question, and we may or may not ever have an answer to that question, but we are not going to invent an answer just to fill in the gaps of our understanding of the universe.

    You’re not happy with the science’s lack of an answer for the origin of the universe, but you’re OK with the concept of a god that always was without beginning?

    The problem is that intelligent designers are using politics to try to wedge religion into science, rather than just letting science stand on its own.

  79. vargkill says:

    Karl Withakay

    The point is, in the end it won’t matter if you’re just forever
    dead. I think that is a simple concept. Its a rather frightening
    concept to know there might not be anything after we pass on.

    To be real honest, having the knowledge that there is
    a god and survival of conscience does bring inspiration to
    be a better person or to do better things in life. Its hard to
    find the motivation knowing it might just all be gone one day
    so im sure in a lot of eyes its pretty simple to assume that
    screwing it up does not matter at that point.

    You might hate that concept or dislike it but i think in many
    eyes its a very true statement. I dont see anything wrong with
    feeling that way considering this is a crazy world we live in.

    SD
    I very much enjoyed your view point on the whole “science vs creation. I think its very true as to what you had to say and
    it is very sad as well, but trut nevertheless.

    Weing

    “Don’t really know what this has to do with Huffpo”.

    I was refering to the little area in the post that was refrencing
    the whole arguement of “creation vs science”. Hello?

    ‘Do you think rhesus monkeys not pulling a chain that gives them food if the act of pulling gives a painful shock to a monkey in another cage is driven by the belief in an afterlife”?

    Maybe im reading this out of context, but you see we are human
    and well, monkeys are monkeys. Not sure why you refrenced
    that, but ok…

    Are you comparing our thoughts to monkeys?
    If so WOW…

  80. weing says:

    vargkill,

    Just think about why monkeys would do that? Do you think they are doing it because of the rewards in an afterlife? Or have these traits been necessary for the survival of the species? Since we are closely related to the monkeys, we may share traits that have been necessary to our survival. Postulating a God and an afterlife is just a rationalization for our behavior. We don’t need a belief in an afterlife to have us do the right thing because doing the right thing is what we are about.

  81. vargkill says:

    weing,

    Im not sure where i to start picking apart your reply, but im going to keep this simple and to the point.

    I understand the metaphore you are attempting to use, however the difference between monkeys and humans is
    that a monkey is still a monkey and not a human.

    We as humans have a far greater ability to comprehend
    our existence and question our existence, which is where
    it pretty much all started. So i think to use an animal has a
    point of refrence to a human beings questioning or reasoning
    is extremly stupid and simply does not work in context. Does
    a monkey think about god? No im sure a monkey thinks about
    things that monkeys think about, like bananas, mating, where
    the next vine to swing from is, who knows? for that matter
    who cares? Ill tell you that is does not take a rocket scientist
    to even begain to ponder what we as humans think about.
    So again, why you would compare us to an animal is beyond
    me… Further more, im willing to bet you think we evolved from
    monkeys as well right? Would not suprise me…

    “Postulating a God and an afterlife is just a rationalization for our behavior. We don’t need a belief in an afterlife to have us do the right thing because doing the right thing is what we are about”.

    So humans have always inherently knew right from wrong?
    Whats funny about that statement is that what is “right” back
    in the day is “wrong” now, so i think that refrence was really
    bold and asinine and arrogant on your part to just assume that
    we as human beings are all about doing the right thing. I dont’
    even think i need to continue on that part of it. Unless of course
    i misconstrued what you posted, but it seemed plain as day
    to me, yet i admit that perhaps i indeed missread it.

    All i can really say is this,

    What sounds better to you, Survival of the conscience? Or
    eternal dreamless sleep? Of course people take comfort in
    knowing that there could be a god and an afterlife. Why would
    that not comfort almost anyone? I know that the journey continues beyond this earthly realm is a neat idea. Then there
    is the alternative, Nothingness… That does not sound to good
    to me.

    Bottom line, We cannot prove nor disprove the existence of
    god or an afterlife.

  82. SD says:

    “The problem is that intelligent designers are using politics to try to wedge religion into science, rather than just letting science stand on its own.”

    I believe I said as much, but I think you neglect the fact that Intelligence Denialists are using the politics to wedge science into others’ religion – when the two are not even really in opposition, no less – which is where this problem comes from in the first place. Which is, um, what I said.

    I suspect most Intelligent Designers would be more than happy to “let the science stand on its own”, since they have little use for it, and would prefer to simply send their kids to schools where Intelligence Denial is not part of the curriculum or at least is taught in a way more to their liking. That they don’t get that option is the root of this problem. Cure for problem: end tax-funded education, depriving the prospective Kings of this particular Hill the actual hill over which to fight.

    Who’s with me?

    “… anybody? bueller? bueller? …”
    -SD

  83. vargkill says:

    SD

    I hear you on that man!
    The problem with that is that it would be the “simple solution”.
    Oddly enough the simple most hassle free solution is the path
    that is never taken and it really is sad.

    Then again i have been talking to a bunch of people who
    believe our existence is just a random occurrence and that
    thinking maybe something came along and created life or had
    some role in it is just 100% bullshit to most of these folks.
    I guess subscribing to the notion of evolving from nothingness
    into what we are today seems to be logical thougt. HAHA!!

    One last thing, i really dig the whole “Natural selection” thing…
    Its funny that there are plenty of ugly and stupid people as well
    as animals in the world, so i guess that seems to be working
    out real good hey?

  84. Dr Benway says:

    vargkill:

    To be real honest, having the knowledge that there is
    a god and survival of conscience does bring inspiration to
    be a better person or to do better things in life.

    I don’t see how sucking up to some sort of big boss in the sky is moral. Suck-ups are two-faced losers.

    Just do good works because you love the goodness of them, because you want to share moments of kindness and compassion while you can, while you’re alive.

    Its hard to
    find the motivation knowing it might just all be gone one day
    so im sure in a lot of eyes its pretty simple to assume that
    screwing it up does not matter at that point.

    You don’t need to figure out the ultimate reality of the universe to enjoy a lovely breakfast of fresh coffee, cereal with yogurt instead of milk and topped by fresh strawberries and blueberries. Yum!

    Oh, and as I eat, a pair of nuthatch are nesting in the birdhouse out my window. They’re gently honk-honking to each other. One is hop-creeping around the trunk of the tree. Guard-duty, I reckon.

    I must remember to put an orange slice out – heard an oriole for the first time yesterday.

    Life goes by faster than summer vacation. Every moment is precious. There are no do-overs. Every action is forever.

    One chance at the plate. That’s what you get. Pretty fucking meaningful and motivating, if you ask me.

  85. Dr Benway says:

    SD:

    I suspect most Intelligent Designers would be more than happy to “let the science stand on its own”, since they have little use for it, and would prefer to simply send their kids to schools where Intelligence Denial is not part of the curriculum or at least is taught in a way more to their liking.

    Let them teach intelligent design at church or in philosophy class. But they can’t teach ID in science class. It’s not science.

  86. David Gorski says:

    Precisely. It is the ID people who are trying to wedge ID into science class. I daresay virtually none of us who oppose ID have a problem with its being taught in religion, history, or philosophy classes–which is where it belongs. It does not belong in a science class because it is demonstrably not science.

  87. Karl Withakay says:

    vargkill
    “Its a rather frightening
    concept to know there might not be anything after we pass on.

    To be real honest, having the knowledge that there is
    a god and survival of conscience does bring inspiration to
    be a better person or to do better things in life.”

    Once again, you are arguing from consequences. Your argument is essentially that life in a universe without a god and/or an afterlife is scary and meaningless. This is not support for the existence of god, this is a reason why belief in a god could be considered beneficial, independent of whether that god actually exists.

    If you want to believe thing because they make you feel better and give you a reason to live, that’s apparently your choice. I, personally, have a hard time believing something just because I want to believe it. I have a problem with rationality getting in the way most of the time. My belief in something is generally a consequence of the facts and information I posses, and not an active choice of decision.

  88. Karl Withakay says:

    SD
    “I believe I said as much, but I think you neglect the fact that Intelligence Denialists are using the politics to wedge science into others’ religion – when the two are not even really in opposition, no less – which is where this problem comes from in the first place.”

    It’s amusing that way you wield the word denialist as if it were delivering some crippling blow. Are you a flat earth denialist? Maybe you are a bigfoot or alien abduction denialist?

    I’m not sure how you think people who don’t subscribe to ID are trying to wedge science into other people’s religion. Is anybody advocating that Sunday schools teach evolution?

    As long as certain religions continues to contradict science, they will be in conflict with science. As long as a faith requires certain phenomenon to be the result of supernatural, divine intervention, that faith will deny well supported scientific explanations of those phenomenon.

    It seems that your underlying agenda here isn’t so much concerned with religion vs science anyway, as much as it is an extreme version of Libertarian government vs people.

  89. vargkill says:

    Hey let me start off by saying, i am not a bible pusher, nor
    am i a christian. I am just someone who finds the idea of
    not having an afterlife or having the conscience survive death
    a somewhat disturbing concept. I am not really trying to say
    that everyone has to fear “God” or do right because there
    is a “God”. I am saying who knows? There is no way to know
    but yet there is an equal possibility that “God” or an “afterlife”
    is just as tangable as the “Theory of evolution”. Since there
    is no way to disprove “God” or evolution there is only one real
    truth to this whole thing…

    When we die we will know the truth! Until then everything is
    just a theory right?

    Dr Benway

    I enjoyed what you had to say because it makes sense to some
    people. But your notion is your notion and someone else might
    find inspiration within it. Im not saying that the concept of being
    happy because life is ours to live, I funny am aware that that
    is the only option, either that or taking yourself out of this
    life if we cannot handle it. What my point is, for some people
    who think long and hard that still might not be enough. That for
    someone life me who is on a mission to prove to himself what
    life really is, it is hard to think that all the great things we see
    around us, all the great people, all the beautiful things that
    are there for us to embrace, could maybe be all just a random
    occurence! That does not sit well with me and im sure a lot
    of people for that matter. So many emotion, so many people,
    all with their own stories, So many great things that take place
    and yet so much ugliness and rotten deeds done with hardly
    a sense of justice a lot of times. I could go on for hours here.
    I think you get my point.

    Their are people who think this is all just a random accident.
    That one day the Universe decided to have some huge explosion
    or whatever and then millions of years later here we sit with
    the ability to stir up emotions from however far away in the world. We just so happen to be the most intelligent animal
    right? Yet we are still the most vicious because of our abilities.
    Everything we are able to do is just a random occurence right?
    Even those birds outside of your window hey?

    Im sorry if you want to think that i respect you defend your
    right to believe what ever it is you wish, but for me? I cannot
    see how this is just a random accident.

  90. vargkill says:

    I truly wish i would have taken the time to go over my post
    and correct my type-os, sorry for that guys!

  91. Karl Withakay says:

    vargkill,
    “There is no way to know
    but yet there is an equal possibility that “God” or an “afterlife”
    is just as tangable as the “Theory of evolution”. Since there
    is no way to disprove “God” or evolution there is only one real
    truth to this whole thing…”

    Let me repeat it yet again, since you seem to keep missing the point. The arguments are intelligent design/ creationism vs evolution, god vs no god, or afterlife vs no afterlife.

    The theory of evolution has nothing to do with the belief or non belief in a god or afterlife.

    It is possible to believe in a god and/or an afterlife along with evolution without conflict. There’s no point in discussing them as if it’s one or the other, that’s a false dichotomy. Evolution does not even address the origins of life, only the origins of species.

    What support do you have for saying there is an equal possibility that god or an afterlife exists as anything else? Just because you can list two possibilities does not justify ascribing equal probability to both.

    “When we die we will know the truth!”

    Only if you’re right. If I am right, once we are dead, we don’t exist anymore and are therefore not capable of knowing anything.

    “Until then everything is
    just a theory right?”

    You don’t really have a theory, you have a speculation based mostly, if not entirely, on what you would like to be true.

  92. Karl Withakay says:

    “it is hard to think that all the great things we see
    around us, all the great people, all the beautiful things that
    are there for us to embrace, could maybe be all just a random
    occurence! That does not sit well with me and im sure a lot
    of people for that matter. So many emotion, so many people,
    all with their own stories, So many great things that take place
    and yet so much ugliness and rotten deeds done with hardly
    a sense of justice a lot of times. ”

    Explain to me how this is anything more than wishful thinking and personal incredulity on your part? Do you have any actual support for your belief other than you find it hard (or don’t want) to think otherwise?

  93. Dr Benway says:

    vargkill:

    it is hard to think that all the great things we see around us, all the great people, all the beautiful things that are there for us to embrace, could maybe be all just a random occurence! That does not sit well with me and im sure a lot of people for that matter. So many emotion, so many people,
    all with their own stories, So many great things that take place
    and yet so much ugliness and rotten deeds done with hardly
    a sense of justice a lot of times. I could go on for hours here.
    I think you get my point.

    Yes, I think I do get your point. And I share your feelings.

    It’s not easy being a tufted titmouse. Just when you figure out where the choice grubs hide, and just after you stumble upon another tit willing to make a little music with you, if you know what I mean –that’s when the sh*t happens. There’s a loud noise and one of your nestlings jumps in fright, falls to the ground and breaks a neck. Or the crows raid your nest. Or the cats are at your throat.

    Me mum would say, “Life isn’t fair.” Truer words never spoke.

    The titmouse clan dream of a heaven filled with peanuts, sunflower seeds, and fresh water. It’s a green and sunny place without a cat in sight. No bird need ever fall from the sky or grow tired on the wing. The songs there are so beautiful, if you could imagine them your heart would break.

    Ah, let the titmouse dream. A little escapism can be a kindness. But too much escapism becomes a life lived inside one’s head rather than the world. And that’s a kind of death, a very lonely kind.

  94. vargkill says:

    Karl Withakay,

    I don’t need a fucking “Theory”. Is anything on the level
    not wishful thinking? Of course i want to subscribe to the
    notion of an afterlife, that was my whole point! Im not trying to
    convert your beliefs am i? No im simply making a statement
    on how i believe having no afterlife would be pointless, what
    do you not understand about that?

    Does anyone have any support to a claim of this nature?
    When did i ever say an afterlife or God was a fact other then
    i would hope it is? Think about it for a moment Karl Withakay,
    if anyone had support for their wild beliefs, would we be needing to have this conversation? No i think we would be
    able at that point to prove Gods existence or other paranormal
    research for that matter.

    “The theory of evolution has nothing to do with the belief or non belief in a god or afterlife”.

    I think you’re missing my point… Which is really not that
    complex since i was mostly making my opinion known that
    if there is nothing when we die, life seems kinda pointless.

    There it is in Laymen’s terms for you.

    The whole point of the theory of evolution is that we evolved
    from microorganisms, or the gradual process in which something
    changes into a different and more complex or better form.

    My other point is that most scientists, people or scientist nut huggers
    usually believe in one or the other. I know that is not the case
    with everyone, i for one admit that they too can co-exisit, but
    that is not the focal point of the dicussion. The focal point
    is, Is there a God? Is there an afterlife? How can this all
    be a random occurence?

    “What support do you have for saying there is an equal possibility that god or an afterlife exists as anything else? Just because you can list two possibilities does not justify ascribing equal probability to both”.

    Do i need support? Does anyone else have support on this
    for that matter? If i did i think i would be the first one sharing
    it with the world because then maybe i could lay the rest
    this great debate. What support does science have to teach
    Evolution as a fact to us all on their science shows? Sure there
    is evidence that can support some things but we still cannot
    prove that it is indeed a fact can we? Just as there are many
    things to point out that stories in the bible where in fact historically correct. Does that mean i can prove that god exists?
    No i cannot. Let me state again that i am not a bible pusher
    nor am i advocating that anyone else believe in God who does
    not already.

    “Only if you’re right. If I am right, once we are dead, we don’t exist anymore and are therefore not capable of knowing anything”.

    You have every right to believe in which you choose to believe.
    However you can only speculte on what you believe is
    the truth. As you said, you are not capable of knowing anything.
    How do you know that? What about all of the unexplained paranormal research that science cannot seem to debunk?
    Reason i say that is its kinda interesting to know there might
    indeed be something after we die.

    Two things will happen when we die…

    1. Your conscience will survive and you will know the truth.

    2. Eternal dreamless sleep.

    Can we at least agree on that?

  95. Karl Withakay says:

    vargkill,

    “I don’t need a f——g “Theory””

    No need to get touchy, you are the one who used the word theory when you posted, “Until then everything is just a theory right?” implying that we both had theories.

    “I think you’re missing my point… ”

    It’s easy to do when you use the mixed dichotomy of afterlife vs evolution.
    ————————————————————-
    “What about all of the unexplained paranormal research that science cannot seem to debunk?”

    Which paranormal research would that be?
    ________________________________________

    As long as you insist on equating apples and oranges, scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution is overwhelming.

    What evidence do you provide in support of your speculation of an afterlife or the possible existence of a god. EVIDENCE, not reasons why you want it to be true or why you find it personally unsatisfying or unacceptable that there isn’t one.

    —————————————————————–
    “Two things will happen when we die…

    1. Your conscience will survive and you will know the truth.

    2. Eternal dreamless sleep.

    Can we at least agree on that?”

    Uh, no, we can’t agree with that. Perhaps you didn’t read my post.

    My belief is that when you are dead, you cease to exist, just as you did not exist before you were born, so will you not exist after you die. No consciousness will survive, no ability to know anything will exist.

  96. vargkill says:

    Karl Withakay,

    The work “theory” yes, not my theory. The theory of evolution,
    or of creation, not my theory but ones around long before i was born. So i used the word theory in that context, never that
    i had a personal one.

    “Which paranormal research would that be?”.

    Do your research, iv dont mine, go do some research on the
    subject if you have not already. There is a book out there
    and if i can remember the name of it i will post it back to you.
    I read it and its pretty interesting. What i do remember is that
    it involved Duke university doing a paranormal reseach study.
    Pretty chilling stuff in it.

    The problem Karl is that when doing paranormal research
    you have to use a different type of science because for something of that nature requires a different approach.
    That is what people fail to understand.

    “Uh, no, we can’t agree with that. Perhaps you didn’t read my post”.

    You’re correct Karl, i only have the ability to make posts in here
    but its not programmed into my head how to read anyone
    else posts.

    You still dont know if cease to exist. Prove it to me? Hows that?
    I will ask you to do something that you cannot and see how
    you like it.

    You know Karl, In my opinion i think you are a fool!

    All due respect, SIR!

  97. weing says:

    Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were interesting and quite enjoyable books. They both described paranormal phenomena and used a different type of science, aka magic.

  98. SD says:

    Karl:

    “It’s amusing that way you wield the word denialist as if it were delivering some crippling blow. Are you a flat earth denialist? Maybe you are a bigfoot or alien abduction denialist?”

    You don’t have much in the way of a perception organ for irony, do you?

    (NB: “irony” does not mean “tastes like iron”, so the answer is not “your tongue”.)

    “I’m not sure how you think people who don’t subscribe to ID are trying to wedge science into other people’s religion. Is anybody advocating that Sunday schools teach evolution?”

    You’re right, they don’t. But the Monday-through-Friday schools do. Is it fair to demand that someone pay for a practice – instructing children in the ways of iniquity, broadly speaking, as viewed from a Christian perspective – that they find appalling and evil? Do you expect Christian parents who send their children to those schools to simply roll over and go “Okay, you can teach that, no problem!” Do you expect them to acquiesce in a program calculated to destroy the transmission of their culture to their children, and to create an environment hostile to its existence?

    Or, do you expect them to get pissy, on the theory that along with paying money into this system comes a certain amount of control over its disposition? Do you expect them to pass up the chance to seize the machinery and framework provided by their enemies to go on the offensive and push their own agenda instead?

    To beat you to your next punch: no, I am not a Christian, but I can understand the mindset.

    “As long as certain religions continues to contradict science, they will be in conflict with science. As long as a faith requires certain phenomenon to be the result of supernatural, divine intervention, that faith will deny well supported scientific explanations of those phenomenon.”

    Well, no it won’t, actually, but as I despair of ever convincing you of that, and don’t really care what you think anyway, you can harbor that belief if it please you. Free country and all that.

    “It seems that your underlying agenda here isn’t so much concerned with religion vs science anyway, as much as it is an extreme version of Libertarian government vs people.”

    My initial answer is a resounding “WELL, NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!”, but there is a little more to it than that; I am also enumerating the hidden dynamics of these conflicts, along with the phenomena that drive them and their easiest cures. So, to that “NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!”, I have to add a “… and you missed about half of the point, too!”

    “hey Sherlock, can you tell me who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”
    -SD

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